Animals Dogs

Ways to Give Your Dog More Mental Stimulation

the exercises listed in this article will help to keep him active on all levels. If you are the one that is reluctant to brave the elements, remember there is no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing!

Games to avoid

Avoid play fighting, especially with large breeds and where children, elderly or disabled people come into regular contact with your dog. This is a game of strength and generally involves mouthing and play biting (from the dog).

It is not fair to engage in games that may get your dog into trouble if he tries to play them with somebody else or that might encourage behaviour you cannot cope with.

Chasing is often encouraged when children are playing and the dog attempts to join the game. It also occurs when there is unsupervised, rough play with other dogs and animals.

It is important that your dog does not learn to view children and other animals as moving chew toys. Leave a light webbing leash trailing so that you can quietly pick it up and call a ‘time out’ during play sessions. If children are playing fast, noisy games it is unfair to expect your dog to remain calm.

Chasing games can cause problems when the dog picks up something he should not have. Dogs learn very quickly that they are able to keep possession of a ‘trophy’ by moving faster and squeezing into smaller places than a human can.

They also learn to steal items that get your immediate attention. Try to ensure that your dog has more fun if he comes when he is called than he does if he runs away.

If your puppy gets overexcited and begins to rip up a soft toy or tear a squeaky toy to get the squeak out, end the game straightaway. This is a ‘killing’ game that can become over-the-top and is potentially aggressive.

Socialization

Socialization is important. Even if you live a solitary life you still need to ensure that your dog responds to basic commands, sees plenty of sights and has the opportunity to meet other animals and people so that a trip to the vet or a stay in a boarding kennel does not blow his mind or cause upset to other beings.

It is also worth teaching your dog to spend time alone, even if there is always someone around, as circumstances do change and it is always possible that an overnight stay at the vet may be required at some point. It is also important that your dog has time to play with other dogs.

As hard as we try to understand our dogs and shape their behaviour so that they live happily alongside their human companions, nothing takes the place of a romp with another canine friend. Join a club, or meet up with local dogs for a hike or a game in the park. You can even arrange play dates for your hound.

Training the family

Communication is the key to any successful relationship and this includes communication between everyone that will be looking after or interacting with the dog and, of course, with the dog himself.

In order to work effectively with your dog, you need to train everyone in the family to ensure that he is not receiving mixed messages.

It is unrealistic to expect the dog to learn how he should behave if everyone has a different idea of what constitutes acceptable behaviour.

If you want him to settle at night on his own in the kitchen, for example, it will be confusing if someone decides to take him to bed with them because they are feeling in need of a cuddle.

Setting boundaries

Prevention is better than cure and it is only fair to your dog if you establish some ground rules as soon as you bring him home. Once you have consistent boundaries you can afford to be more flexible, but at the beginning of your relationship it is easier to create a structure and routine that your dog understands as it will help
him to feel safe and secure.

Planning for the future is vital for a successful and harmonious existence. If you own a young dog, remember he will grow.

An enthusiastic puppy that jumps up with great gusto to greet visitors may be endearing in the short term, but if Great Auntie Ethel is felled the moment she walks through the door by a mature, slobbering heavy weight, relationships may become a little strained.

The puppy that was once the apple of your eye and a part of every social scene may then be relegated to the yard or back room as he starts to mature, which will frustrate him and give rise to a whole host of other problems.

If you have taken on a rescue dog remember his life is good now because he lives with you. Not every dog that is in the shelter has had a bad experience. Remaining attached to the past is not helpful to a dog, and pity can severely limit our abilities to help him.

Even if you know for a fact that he has been badly treated and has developed problems as a result, he is still a dog who would like to learn new skills.